5G Threat Fizzles, No Big Disruptions Expected


The CEOs of American Airlines and United Airlines say cooperation and collaboration in the past week between airlines, telecommunications companies and government agencies minimized the effect of the rollout of 5G cell service to airline service. The release of details on the strength and nature of the 5G signals by the telecoms made it possible to avert the crisis they’d been predicting a week earlier. “The good news is we now have what should have been going on for quite some time, which is the manufacturers, the telecoms, the government agencies all sharing information that they need to make sure that this can be rolled out in a way that all Americans get 5G and all Americans know that their flights aren’t going to be impacted by that 5G,” Forbes quoted American Airlines CEO Doug Parker as saying on an earnings call with financial reporters on Thursday. “I don’t think you’re going to see any material disruption going forward because of this.”

United CEO Scott Kirby said “this problem has been resolved collaboratively” and that “while we don’t have a final resolution quite yet, I’m confident we’ll get there.” On Thursday, the FAA approved another set of radar altimeters for use where 5G signals are present and it means that 78 percent of airliners, including virtually all Boeing and Airbus aircraft, are cleared to perform low-visibility landings. Some Embraer 170 and 190 models are also cleared. The agency says it’s continuing to evaluate the remaining altimeters and warns some may not be approved. “To preserve safety, aircraft with those altimeters will be prohibited from performing low-visibility landings where 5G is deployed because the altimeter could provide inaccurate information,” the agency said in an update.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. What a surprise. Yet another devastating threat doesn’t materialize. Probably would have affected only unvaxxed planes anyway.

    • Objection.

      Much work was done to define the risk. Read the RTCA report!

      Much work was done to evaluate individual radalt models and individual airplane designs. Note the 787 was determined to be at more risk because of the use it makes of radalt data to determine air-ground transition, which enables braking devices.

      Wireless companies backed off, some more responsibly than others.

      AA said it well, “…we now have what should have been going on for quite some time..”

      (This short article does not detail actions taken by wireless outfits who have a bad reputation (hint to them: in Europe power, frequency, location of antennas, and antenna tilt really matter).)

      Russ needs coaching:
      – ‘fizzled’ is bad term, problem was greatly diminished by rational actions
      – problem is not over yet, article says only 78% of all airliners have been cleared but some radalts may never be (they can be replaced I presume as significant airliners use standard racking and cabling, but on airplane testing needed).
      Yes, Russ and I tangle on occasion, I do feed him/AvWeb tips on news not just play Grammar Cop. 😉

  2. Hey Mike, don’t count out the hidden, yet to be activated 9/11-Y2K bug that will ruin everyones’ lives

    • OTOH wireless outfits and their supporters like the supposed consutant who writes for USA today are Alfred E. Neuman types.

  3. I joined The Far Side fb group to share laughs from a cartoonist, Gary Larson, poking fun at everything. Jokes aside, I doubt anyone making fun of this situation is a commercial pilot responsible for the safe operation of passenger carrying aircraft relying on electronics systems for ifr navigation. I too can be a keyboard warrior but not as a pilot.

  4. Like i said… It’s been in play in Europe for years in the same frequency bands with ZERO issues….

    • But also like has been mentioned, Europe also has reasonable restrictions on where and how 5G towers can be placed around airports, which really doesn’t exist here in the US.

      People have a tendency to treat all regulations as bad, but many times regulations are actually good. Like all things, there are good and bad regulations, and most are at lease implemented with good intentions (but not always thinking through all of the implications of it). In this case, regulations around where transmitting towers that have the potential to interfere with safety-of-flight equipment is most definitely a good thing.

    • BUT…

      Europe has lower power.
      European antennas are tilted downward slightly, a is normal for cellular telephony antennas.
      Europe does not use frequencies a close to radalt ones.

      Doing homework is a good thing before working with airplanes.

  5. https://www.msn.com/en-ca/money/topstories/u-s-faa-approves-90-of-planes-for-low-visibility-landings-near-5g-airports/ar-AAT8pj4?ocid=msedgntp includes mention of AD on 777 and 747-8 airplanes for interference.

    I do not find that AD in the FAA’s listings, but it is still Tuesday evening in Washington DC as I write this.

    (https://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgad.nsf/0/1377c77ee0d593a6862587cf00547166/$FILE/2022-02-16.pdf covers the 787 problem reported earlier)